Retail Sales Growing as Holiday Season Begins

holiday shopping

Retail sales grew again in October as consumers set aside concerns about inflation and many got a jump start on the holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Matthew Shay
Matthew Shay

“October retail sales data confirms that consumers continue to stretch their dollars on household priorities, including gifts for family and loved ones this holiday season,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With a strong labor market and excess savings, we are expecting a solid five-day holiday shopping weekend, and retailers are prepared to meet their customers with the right inventory, competitive prices and great experiences. We are keeping a close eye on the railway labor negotiations and urge Congress to do everything in its power to avoid a labor strike this holiday season.”

Jack Kleinhenz
Jack Kleinhenz

“October’s performance is a strong foothold as we go into the holiday season,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Spending has gradually slowed but remains solid. Consumers continue to show resiliency despite elevated inflation, rising borrowing costs and widespread macroeconomic uncertainties. With employment and wages growing and shoppers accessing accumulated savings, we expect the trend to continue. Early holiday deals that enticed customers appear to underly the October numbers and more promotions will be seen in November and December, which are historically the big holiday shopping months.”

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The US Census Bureau said that overall retail sales in October were up 1.3% from September and up 8.3% year over year. In September, sales were flat month over month but up 8.6% year over year.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales—which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail—showed October was up 0.7% from September and up 6.5% unadjusted year over year. In September, sales were up 0.5% month over month and up 7.9% year over year.

NRF’s numbers were up 7.7% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of October. Sales were up 7.5% year over year for the first 10 months of the year, keeping results on track with NRF’s forecast that 2022 retail sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021. NRF forecast earlier this month that sales during the holiday season—defined as November through December—will also grow between 6% and 8% over 2021.

October sales were up in all but two retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, building materials stores and grocery stores, and increased in five out of nine categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 1.2% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 11.8% unadjusted year over year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.1% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 9.1% unadjusted year over year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 1.4% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 6.8% unadjusted year over year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 5.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were flat month over month seasonally adjusted but up 2.5% unadjusted year over year.
  • General merchandise stores were down 0.2% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 1.8% unadjusted year over year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.3% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 0.6% unadjusted year over year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.1% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 0.6% unadjusted year over year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.3% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 12.3% unadjusted year over year.

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